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Unfair Fight: Give Your Small Business the winning advantage
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Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year shows how to make a business grow and become a success. Using the analogy of a boxing match, Sam Hazledine explains that business owners need to fight the unfair fight to ensure their success. It's essentially the David and Goliath story – punching above their weight. Unfair Fight is about how business owners can move from fighting it out with their competition, and often losing, to consistently winning in business and ultimately transcending their competition. It presents simple and powerful concepts and gives people action steps to apply these concepts. Mr Hazledine wrote it because he found most business teaching over-complicated and based on large businesses that weren't relevant to small to medium businesses. Unfair Fight is distilled from his seminars, books, coaching and personal experience, into a simple formula he has applied in his life to build his company to $20 million in revenue in four years; it has featured in the Deloitte Fast 50 for four consecutive years.
Mr Hazledine founded MedRecruit in 2006 with the passionate vision of improving the lives of all doctors in Australasia. He graduated from Otago Medical School in 2003. After starting work as a doctor he saw how many of his class mates and colleagues were becoming disillusioned with medicine while some were doing things differently and loving it. He decided to go locuming in Australia to join the ones who loved it. Later he decided doctors deserved much better - a partner to assist them to realise their goals and ambitions, so he founded MedRecruit.
Mr Hazledine lives in Queenstown with his wife Claire, their daughters Zara and Florence and their dog Ernie. He is a New Zealand extreme skiing champion and also loves water skiing, surfing, and mountain biking testing.
Book Extract: Unfair Fight: Give Your Small Business the winning advantage
The most important part of any fight is you: how you show up, how you engage and the habits that you adopt.
Business success is no different. If you just focus on the techniques, what you have to do, you will miss the single most important factor that determines your success or failure: you.
The first four rounds are dedicated to the most important and most powerful ways you can create the best you.
The biggest chokehold on any business is the psychology of the owner. Many books make the process of creating a success psychology complicated, but it doesn’t have to be. Just follow the action steps in the next four chapters and watch the massive impact it has on your life, and your business.
Remove the limits that your psychology has been placing on your business, step up as the leader your business is calling for, and anything’s possible.
Please don’t rush through Part One because you are so keen to get into the ‘how to’. Start at the beginning because what you’ll learn here is the ultimate difference between success and failure.
The Latin root of the word ‘decide’ means ‘to cut off’. To make a real decision is to cut off all other possibilities.
When you decide that success is yours, it is.
Round One of the Unfair Fight is about you making a decision. It is also about you recognising the three decisions that are shaping your life and your business, and how you can direct those decisions to create the destiny and business of your choice. This is the shortest chapter and it’s also the most important. If this chapter is all you take from this book then you are already at a massive advantage.
The quality of your life is a direct reflection of the quality of your decisions.
The power of a single decision . . .
At its height in 1519, the Aztec Empire covered some 20,000 square kilometres in central and southern Mexico and ruled between five and six million people. That year, the Spanish conquistador Hernán Cortés arrived with the aim of overthrowing this vast empire. He brought with him just 500 soldiers and 13 horses. Not exactly a large army, or at least not one likely to be feared by what was then the western hemisphere’s most powerful nation.
They were massively outnumbered and the men were terrified, and Cortés knew he had to take definitive action. So when Cortés and his army landed on the shore, he told his men: ‘Burn the boats.’
Cortés said that by burning the boats they would conquer the Aztec army and gain their fortune. Cortés wanted his men to understand fully that their only option was to win or die — there would be no retreat, no in between, no back-up plan.
Their only option was to take the Aztec’s boats home.
Too often, we give ourselves a back-up plan, an ‘out’. We want to make sure that we have something to fall back on if things go wrong. But the problem is that by giving yourself a back-up plan, that actually becomes the plan.
When faced with a risk you must eliminate any obstacles that might hold you back from giving your full effort. If you know that you have an escape plan, are you really going to shoot for success with as much effort as if this was your last and only hope?
If your life literally depended on it, how much effort would you put in?
Have you ever had those conversations in your head? ‘If this doesn’t work, I can always get my old job back.’ ‘If I don’t like university, I can always go home to Mum and Dad.’ ‘If this marriage doesn’t work, I can always get a divorce.’
This attitude almost always leads to failure. It holds no power.
The fighter who, in round one, is considering what they’ll say to their friends and family when they lose is unlikely to ever make it to round two. Muhammad Ali did not say, ‘Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee . . . if I lose I’ll go home and watch The Simpsons.’
Having a great fight starts with you being an effective fighter — it starts with you.
But back to the Aztecs. The message Cortés sent was not just intended for his army. After word spread of his definitive actions on the beach, the Aztecs knew that the Spanish were literally fighting for their lives. The Aztecs understood that they would be unable to force the Spanish to retreat because there was nowhere for the invaders to go. On the other hand, with an entire empire behind them, the Aztec forces would always be aware of their own option to retreat. In the face of the Spanish commitment to total victory, the Aztecs would themselves be more inclined to retreat and less inclined to fight hard to hold ground.
Cortés’ men were totally focused and motivated. They didn’t just want to win, they needed to win in order to survive.
By 1521, just two years later, Cortés and his small army had conquered the Aztecs.
So the question for you is this:
Do I choose success?
Are you prepared to ‘burn your boats’ and give your business your total dedication and focus? Are you prepared to do whatever it takes to succeed? Are you ready to decide that success, not failure, is your destiny?
Are you prepared to read this book and apply what you learn? Relentlessly.
Please don’t just read this chapter, say ‘Yes’, and move on. Take the time to consider these questions and your answers. Because a ‘Yes’ that hasn’t been thought through is not a decision at all. Success means a commitment from your entire being.
That being said, making this decision doesn’t have to take long. If you can truthfully answer ‘Yes’ then you are already in the minority of people who do, versus the majority who talk about it.
Burning Your Boats
When Cortés instructed his men to burn their boats he knew that in order to defeat a much larger army he needed superior leverage; he needed to be able to do more with less. Similarly, you can create the leverage you need to be successful.
Get clear about what success means for you. Be very careful here that you are honest about what success looks like ideally, not what it looks like safely. What would success look like if you knew you couldn’t fail?
Determine and record ‘why’ success is a must for you. What will it mean for you and your family when you achieve it? What would it cost you not to achieve it? By being brutally honest in both these areas you will create a pull towards your goal and a drive away from what you don’t want.
Make the decision to choose success.
Increase leverage by sharing your commitment with someone whose opinion you value and who will hold you accountable — today.
Remind yourself of your decision daily and take action towards your desired outcome.
For more on decision making, access the Decision Worksheet by registering at www.samhazledine.com.
That’s it. While this first step might seem insignificant it is the most important, and critical to set you up for the Unfair Fight. Choosing success allows you to draw from the depths of your true power and access all the resources available to you when retreat is not an option.
You’ll create success like your life depends on it.
Because it does.
You’ll move from wanting success to needing it, and that’s exactly where you need to be.
As I’ve said, when I started MedRecruit I had no business experience. I was also entering a market dominated by a company with a monopoly. I realised that I would need to turn up with everything I had, that I could leave nothing in the tank.
I realised that to create success I had to decide to create success and to commit to it with everything I had.
I got very clear on what sort of business I wanted to create: an internationally successful company that would transform the status quo of its industry and provide doctors with the lifestyles they wanted in medicine, and hospitals with the certainty they needed in their staffing.
I realised that I had to remove all my ‘outs’. I couldn’t go into this with a back-up plan. For me, the success of MedRecruit was all or nothing and I was either going to create a massively successful business or I was going to die trying.
That total commitment, that total dedication to developing my vision, and removing any form of a back-up plan, meant that when times were tough I had no option but to persist and think creatively to find a way through. It meant that I worked as hard as I needed to, and more, to evolve my company into an internationally recognised brand with a massive positive impact on the medical recruitment industry.
I didn’t just want success, I needed it. My future depended on it. So does yours.
Three decisions that shape your life
Once you have decided that success is your destiny, that it’s a need not just a want, you have to understand the three decisions that are constantly shaping your life and your future, in both your personal life and your business. When you are unaware of these decisions you are ‘at effect’ in your life, when you become aware of and direct them you are ‘at cause’.
Anthony Robbins, the well-known life coach and motivational speaker, initially taught me about the power of decisions and this idea has shaped my entire life and business, and continues to shape it daily. A decision is a cause set in motion.
1. What am I going to focus on?
Where focus goes, energy flows. By deciding what to focus on you are deciding where you are going to direct your energy, and hence you are deciding what direction you want to go in.
Are you focusing on the past, the present or the future? Are you focusing on yourself or on others? Are you focusing on the opportunities or the limitations? Are you focusing on the resources you don’t have available to you or on your resourcefulness and everything that is available to you? There are patterns of focus and you need to become aware of yours, because as soon as you are aware you will know if your focus is serving you well or whether it needs to be redirected.
2. What does it mean?
You have the power to decide what meaning you will give to any situation. Emotion comes from the meaning you give to any thing or any experience, and emotion is the fuel of life. The events of our life are not what are important, what is important is the meaning we attach to those events. Meaning is a choice.
Meaning is not thrust upon you; it’s a decision you make.
Two people can experience the same event and choose to focus on different things, therefore choosing to give the event different meanings. Two business owners could trade themselves into insolvency and one could decide that means they aren’t cut out for business, the other could decide that they are learning lessons which are invaluable towards becoming a titan of business.
Are you going to give the events of your life empowering meanings or disempowering meanings? Does something mean the end or the beginning? Is the situation here to punish you or serve you? Do you see it as a blockage or a test?
3. What am I going to do?
Deciding what you focus on and what that means to you shapes the emotions you feel and therefore the decisions you make and actions you take.
In the previous example of two insolvent business owners, the one who decided insolvency meant they weren’t cut out for business might give up; the one who decided that the lessons learnt were invaluable might decide to do whatever it takes, to learn whatever they need to learn, to work harder than they have ever worked before and to trade out of insolvency and to create a great company.
That’s what I did in the early days when I traded my company MedRecruit into insolvency and then out. Some of the most powerful lessons in Unfair Fight come directly from having my back to the wall and giving myself no choice but to think creatively and to come up with resourceful ways to do more with less.
In every moment of your life, in every moment of your business, you are deciding what to focus on, what that means and what you are going to do.
Six commitments to create your destiny
The outcome of a decision is a commitment. The difference between people who fail to get the results they desire in life and business and those who get what they want is the difference between being interested and being committed.
People who are interested in success, in achieving what they want, will achieve it if it’s convenient, and it usually isn’t, so they don’t.
On the other hand, people who are committed will do what they need to do to achieve what’s important to them. Full stop.
Someone who’s interested in getting fit will wake up, see it’s raining and go back to bed. Someone who’s committed will wake up, see it’s raining and put on a raincoat.
To master the Unfair Fight you will need to make these six commitments. The Unfair Fight will be of some use if you are interested in business success, and it will be invaluable if you are committed.
1. I am committed to action
Knowledge isn’t power, knowledge with action is power. Successful people are committed not only to learning, but to implementing and taking massive action.
Every time you learn something valuable in this book, take action. Don’t worry about getting it perfect, but do worry about getting it done.
‘The man who is waiting for something to turn up might start on his shirtsleeves.’
2. I am committed to speed
Successful entrepreneurs and business owners take action fast. They don’t see failure as the end, rather they see it as a necessary part of learning and success.
The world, and business, is moving quickly and one of the biggest reasons businesses fail is because the owner is too slow.
Speed plus the right strategy equals success. This book will give you the strategies to take effective action quickly.
3. I am committed to doing whatever it takes
‘If at first you don’t succeed, try, try and try again.’ If a child is learning to walk, how many times do you make sure they try until they succeed?
As many times as it takes.
Children try as often as they need to until they learn to walk, to ride a bike, to swim . . . and so on. Adults encourage their kids to never give up, so why don’t more adults apply that approach to their own lives?
You never give up on them, so why would you give up on yourself?
Taking action alone isn’t enough. You must make the commitment to yourself that you will persist and do whatever it takes, without harming others, to achieve your ultimate outcome, to become successful. Getting results is your focus, not the process. Be committed to your outcome and remain flexible in your approach because achieving success is a dynamic process.
The secret of achieving success in anything is to get up more times than you fall over. If you fail 1000 times then to be successful you just need to try 1001 times. It’s not complicated.
People who achieve success are people who practise; they know they won’t be the best when they start out so they commit to practising until they become brilliant. Aim to get to ‘unconscious competence’, where you are so good at the important areas in your life that you don’t even have to think about them. Commit to this and you will be unstoppable.
4. I am committed to taking total responsibility
for my results
There is only one person you ultimately have control over: yourself. Successful people adopt the belief that the conditions of their lives are their responsibility.
Put another way, successful people take charge of their lives.
It is incredibly powerful to take ownership of your life and your business, and to stop making excuses and giving others the power.
It’s time for you to step up and own the conditions of your life. Now.
5. I am committed to stretching
Your ultimate destiny lies just outside the limits of your comfort zone. To achieve your potential, to create the life of your dreams, to create the business you always dreamed of, you must commit to continuing to stretch yourself.
Lean into the discomfort.
As you learn new things that will benefit you, lean into them. Don’t be afraid if you don’t get it right the first time.
Muscles grow when they are stretched to their limits and break, then they rebuild themselves even stronger. It is important you do the same in your life.
6. I am committed to acting with personal integrity
Integrity means being true to your values and ensuring that what is on the outside is the same as what is on the inside.
Get clear about your beliefs and values, and see that they are in alignment with what you want to achieve.
If you value creating a global business that impacts the lives of millions, and you also value sleeping until midday and then watching TV all afternoon, then you might have a problem.
Review your values and make sure they are helping you achieve your target.
Access the Commitments Worksheet at www.samhazledine.com to increase the leverage you have on yourself to make these commitments.
Decisions shape your life, and ultimately your destiny, every moment of every day. Be aware of the decisions you are making, and ensure that these decisions take you in the direction you want to go in.
Decide to be successful, and you will be.
Decide where to focus, and make sure this moves you in the direction you want.
Decide what meaning you will attach to the events in your life, and make that meaning powerful.
Decide what you are going to do to move towards your ultimate destiny, and make the commitments you need in order to achieve it.
Essentially your motto must be:
If I want to create an exceptional business, then I must be committed to creating an exceptional business.
In my experience the majority of people are not consciously making these four decisions or the necessary commitments. By consciously making these decisions you are tapping into the power of being ‘at cause’ in your life.
Armed with these four decisions, you will give yourself an unassailable advantage.
That’s the Unfair Fight.